Unlocking the potential of people with disabilities

By Tatiana Peralta 11/02/2021
Unlocking the potential of people with disabilities

Employees with disabilities who work at the Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, have unlocked a wealth of talent and potential for their employer.  

This year, Work Services Corporation has turned the key on a new opportunity at the base that allowed them to both hire and promote people with disabilities. The agency has employed people with disabilities to provide products and services for the Air Force through the AbilityOne® Program since 1975. 

The Sheppard Air Force Base is used as a training ground for members of the U.S. Air Force. For many service members, this facility is the first home in their military career. It has 15 dormitories and over 3,000 rooms that are in constant need of maintenance and upkeep. This means checking the locks on doors, inspecting smoke detectors, replacing ceiling tiles and A/C filters, and fixing other items that may need replacement. The dormitory management contract is the first of its kind for the Air Force, WSC and the AbilityOne® Program, which is one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. 

One of the most impressive aspects of this new work is that it both performed and managed by people with disabilities. Tama Shannon, a person with a disability employed by WSC, was promoted from supply technician to logistics manager and now to Project Manager. In this role, she oversees 10 AbilityOne employees working on the contract. She has a toolbox of experience in both the technology and skills needed to run the program and oversee these talented individuals. 

“I love this new opportunity,” said Tama. “Anytime that I can lead, I try to lead by example. It’s a pleasure to get to come to work every day. With having a disability and my family, I enjoy the opportunity to empower people. If they tell me they can’t do something, I always ask what they need and what I can do to help them.” 

“Tama has been with Work Services Corporation for more than a decade,” said Ben Ezzell, Work Services Vice President of Operations. “Tama has a disability, and her husband and children also have disabilities. That is her true connection to our organization and its mission to empower people with disabilities.” 

Tama’s team consists of customer service representatives, database administrators, inspectors, and general maintenance workers. The inspectors oversee checking floor tiles, ceiling tiles, leaks, and more. They bring back anything that needs to be addressed to the general maintenance staff for immediate attention. The low-key way all of the teams work together helps them succeed.  

When the U.S. Air Force handed the dormitory maintenance work to SourceAmerica® network nonprofit WSC, the efficiency of the operation increased exponentially. In just one month, more than 1,200 ceiling tiles were replaced. Smoke detectors were inspected, and HVAC filters have been replaced in three of the 15 dorm facilities. These are impressive numbers for the AbilityOne employees who make it their mission to provide the best service for the Air Force every day.  

A key to WSC’s success is a long-standing tradition of promoting people like Tama to leadership roles. In fact, as Tama was getting ready to step into this new job, another AbilityOne employee, Angela Smith, was promoted to logistics and maintenance Manager, supporting the food service operation at the base.  

Want to learn more about how SourceAmerica’s nonprofit network is unlocking the potential of people with disabilities, check out our Success Stories and Videos